Parkinson’s Disease, Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: Natural Help

Most of us should be familiar with the disease known as Parkinson’s Disease, which ruins countless lives by creating a movement disorder characterized by shaking type of movements. It leads to difficulty moving at all, and in late stages the most common treatments lead to dyskinesthia which is a type of writhing uncontrolled movement. Without detailing the actual nerve pathways, part of the problem is neurodegeneration in a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, in an area known as the Substantia Nigra. When this area is overtaxed and inflamed, a process known as oxidative stress occurs, damaging neurons and created neurofibrous “tangles” known as α-synuclein aggregations.

There is a great deal of research that has been done to detail some natural ingredients that can be used to either prevent, or help treat Parkinson’s. These can sometimes reduce the amount of medication needed, and postpone the onset of dyskinesthia. In some cases successful treatment has occurred and symptoms are gone. The major “theme” of treatment with natural products is to reduce inflammation, block oxidative stress, and promote healthy metabolism in those neuronal cells.

Curcumin is an extract of turmeric, and contains 95% curcuminoids-the active ingredient. This makes it 19 times stronger than turmeric, which only contains 5%. Curcumin has been found to block inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, rescue nerve cells that have been affected, and even to reverse the accumulation of α-synuclein in the brain. I’ve attached a little over two dozen peer-reviewed studies about curcumin and Parkinson’s in the Bibliography. Curcumin is best taken before a meal, and with a tablespoon of coconut oil which boosts absorption and is good for the brain as well.

Another useful herb is Skullcap, Scuttelaria baikalensis, which contains the ingredient Baicalein. This has also been extensively studied for use in treating and reversing some of the effects of Parkinson’s, and is a very promising herb. Note that there aren’t any studies that look at what would happen if you use this AND curcumin, but you can imagine that it should work even better as they do not function through the same mechanisms.

The last strategy I’d like to mention is gut bacteria optimization. As I wrote an entire book about gut bacteria (The Symbiont Factor) I’ll try to be brief. Our gut bacteria wield a big influence on brain and immune function, helping to both tone and control immune function and regulate both the production of neurotransmitters and the sensitivity of neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain. An imbalance of gut bacteria, which can be assessed with a gut bacteria census, can create functional changes that make the brain less efficient and more inflamed. This sets the stage for Parkinson’s, as neuroinflammation is a required building block of this disease.

Now, you might ask yourselves why this information is not more well known in the Parkinson’s world…it doesn’t actually even appear on the National Parkinson’s Foundation website although many less effective interventions are mentioned. This is because, simply, much of the research is done in search of new drugs to create by copying the action of useful herbs and natural processes. This is one way that companies explore for new drugs that can be patented. The real question is why we would wait for that, when the research shows these natural substances to be quite effective in lab and animal models. Of course, double-blind trials on humans will not be performed until drug candidates are created…so don’t look for the final proof of natural substances, because these trials are very expensive and are only carried out when a candidate drug ($$$) is being evaluated. In other words, follow the money!


The Symbiont Factor:

Baicalein inhibits α-synuclein oligomer formation and prevents progression of α-synuclein accumulation in a rotenone mouse model of Parkinson’s disease.

Hu Q, Uversky VN, Huang M, Kang H, Xu F, Liu X, Lian L, Liang Q, Jiang H, Liu A, Zhang C, Zhu S.

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Jul 14. pii: S0925-4439(16)30168-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2016.07.008. [Epub ahead of print]


Ameliorative effects of baicalein in MPTP-induced mouse model of Parkinson’s disease: A microarray study.

Gao L, Li C, Yang RY, Lian WW, Fang JS, Pang XC, Qin XM, Liu AL, Du GH.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2015 Jun;133:155-63. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2015.04.004. Epub 2015 Apr 18.


Baicalein ameliorated the upregulation of striatal glutamatergic transmission in the mice model of Parkinson’s disease.

Xue X, Liu H, Qi L, Li X, Guo C, Gong D, Qu H.

Brain Res Bull. 2014 Apr;103:54-9. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Feb 24.


Baicalein prevents 6-hydroxydopamine-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in SH-SY5Y cells via inhibition of mitochondrial oxidation and up-regulation of DJ-1 protein expression.

Wang YH, Yu HT, Pu XP, Du GH.

Molecules. 2013 Nov 27;18(12):14726-38. doi: 10.3390/molecules181214726.


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Baicalein attenuates astroglial activation in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydropyridine-induced Parkinson’s disease model by downregulating the activations of nuclear factor-κB, ERK, and JNK.

Lee E, Park HR, Ji ST, Lee Y, Lee J.

J Neurosci Res. 2014 Jan;92(1):130-9. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23307. Epub 2013 Oct 28.


Baicalein protects against 6-OHDA-induced neurotoxicity through activation of Keap1/Nrf2/HO-1 and involving PKCα and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways.

Zhang Z, Cui W, Li G, Yuan S, Xu D, Hoi MP, Lin Z, Dou J, Han Y, Lee SM.

J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Aug 22;60(33):8171-82. doi: 10.1021/jf301511m. Epub 2012 Aug 9.


[Neuroprotective effect of baicalein in patients with Parkinson’s disease].

Yu X, He G, Du G.

Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2012 Feb;37(4):421-5. Review. Chinese.


Assessment of the treatment effect of baicalein on a model of Parkinsonian tremor and elucidation of the mechanism.

Yu X, He GR, Sun L, Lan X, Shi LL, Xuan ZH, Du GH.

Life Sci. 2012 Jul 26;91(1-2):5-13. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2012.05.005. Epub 2012 May 23.


Baicalein inhibits formation of α-synuclein oligomers within living cells and prevents Aβ peptide fibrillation and oligomerisation.

Lu JH, Ardah MT, Durairajan SS, Liu LF, Xie LX, Fong WF, Hasan MY, Huang JD, El-Agnaf OM, Li M.

Chembiochem. 2011 Mar 7;12(4):615-24. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201000604. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


Flavones from root of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi: drugs of the future in neurodegeneration?

Gasiorowski K, Lamer-Zarawska E, Leszek J, Parvathaneni K, Yendluri BB, Błach-Olszewska Z, Aliev G.

CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2011 Mar;10(2):184-91. Review.


Structural characteristics of alpha-synuclein oligomers stabilized by the flavonoid baicalein.

Hong DP, Fink AL, Uversky VN.

J Mol Biol. 2008 Oct 31;383(1):214-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.08.039. Epub 2008 Aug 23.


Free PMC Article

The flavonoid baicalein inhibits fibrillation of alpha-synuclein and disaggregates existing fibrils.

Zhu M, Rajamani S, Kaylor J, Han S, Zhou F, Fink AL.

J Biol Chem. 2004 Jun 25;279(26):26846-57. Epub 2004 Apr 19.


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Curcumin Rescues a PINK1 Knock Down SH-SY5Y Cellular Model of Parkinson’s Disease from Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Cell Death.

van der Merwe C, van Dyk HC, Engelbrecht L, van der Westhuizen FH, Kinnear C, Loos B, Bardien S.

Mol Neurobiol. 2016 Mar 22. [Epub ahead of print]


Curcumin improves neurofunctions of 6-OHDA-induced parkinsonian rats.

Song S, Nie Q, Li Z, Du G.

Pathol Res Pract. 2016 Apr;212(4):247-51. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2015.11.012. Epub 2015 Nov 18.


Curcumin ameliorates dopaminergic neuronal oxidative damage via activation of the Akt/Nrf2 pathway.

Cui Q, Li X, Zhu H.

Mol Med Rep. 2016 Feb;13(2):1381-8. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.4657. Epub 2015 Dec 8.


Curcumin inhibits apoptosis by regulating intracellular calcium release, reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial depolarization levels in SH-SY5Y neuronal cells.

Uğuz AC, Öz A, Nazıroğlu M.

J Recept Signal Transduct Res. 2016 Aug;36(4):395-401. doi: 10.3109/10799893.2015.1108337. Epub 2015 Nov 25.


Recent trends in the development of nanophytobioactive compounds and delivery systems for their possible role in reducing oxidative stress in Parkinson’s disease models.

Ganesan P, Ko HM, Kim IS, Choi DK.

Int J Nanomedicine. 2015 Oct 29;10:6757-72. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S93918. eCollection 2015. Review.


Free PMC Article

Plant-derived neuroprotective agents in Parkinson’s disease.

Fu W, Zhuang W, Zhou S, Wang X.

Am J Transl Res. 2015 Jul 15;7(7):1189-202. eCollection 2015. Review.


Free PMC Article

Curcumin Treatment Improves Motor Behavior in α-Synuclein Transgenic Mice.

Spinelli KJ, Osterberg VR, Meshul CK, Soumyanath A, Unni VK.

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 2;10(6):e0128510. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128510. eCollection 2015.


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Relevance of the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin in neurodegenerative diseases and depression.

Tizabi Y, Hurley LL, Qualls Z, Akinfiresoye L.

Molecules. 2014 Dec 12;19(12):20864-79. doi: 10.3390/molecules191220864. Review.


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Curcumin’s neuroprotective efficacy in Drosophila model of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease is phase specific: implication of its therapeutic effectiveness.

Phom L, Achumi B, Alone DP, Muralidhara, Yenisetti SC.

Rejuvenation Res. 2014 Dec;17(6):481-9. doi: 10.1089/rej.2014.1591.


Free PMC Article

The use of nanopore analysis for discovering drugs which bind to α-synuclein for treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Tavassoly O, Kakish J, Nokhrin S, Dmitriev O, Lee JS.

Eur J Med Chem. 2014 Dec 17;88:42-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2014.07.090. Epub 2014 Jul 25.


Neuroprotective effect of curcumin on hippocampal injury in 6-OHDA-induced Parkinson’s disease rat.

Yang J, Song S, Li J, Liang T.

Pathol Res Pract. 2014 Jun;210(6):357-62. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2014.02.005. Epub 2014 Feb 23.


Curcumin protects axons from degeneration in the setting of local neuroinflammation.

Tegenge MA, Rajbhandari L, Shrestha S, Mithal A, Hosmane S, Venkatesan A.

Exp Neurol. 2014 Mar;253:102-10. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.12.016. Epub 2013 Dec 29.


Protective effects of curcumin against rotenone and salsolinol-induced toxicity: implications for Parkinson’s disease.

Qualls Z, Brown D, Ramlochansingh C, Hurley LL, Tizabi Y.

Neurotox Res. 2014 Jan;25(1):81-9.


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The multiple pharmaceutical potential of curcumin in Parkinson’s disease.

Ji HF, Shen L.

CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014 Mar;13(2):369-73. Review.


Curcumin modulates α-synuclein aggregation and toxicity.

Singh PK, Kotia V, Ghosh D, Mohite GM, Kumar A, Maji SK.

ACS Chem Neurosci. 2013 Mar 20;4(3):393-407. doi: 10.1021/cn3001203. Epub 2012 Dec 17.


Free PMC Article

Curcumin ameliorates the neurodegenerative pathology in A53T α-synuclein cell model of Parkinson’s disease through the downregulation of mTOR/p70S6K signaling and the recovery of macroautophagy.

Jiang TF, Zhang YJ, Zhou HY, Wang HM, Tian LP, Liu J, Ding JQ, Chen SD.

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2013 Mar;8(1):356-69. doi: 10.1007/s11481-012-9431-7. Epub 2013 Jan 17.


Curcumin inhibition of JNKs prevents dopaminergic neuronal loss in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease through suppressing mitochondria dysfunction.

Pan J, Li H, Ma JF, Tan YY, Xiao Q, Ding JQ, Chen SD.

Transl Neurodegener. 2012 Aug 20;1(1):16. doi: 10.1186/2047-9158-1-16.


Free PMC Article

Neurodegenerative Shielding by Curcumin and Its Derivatives on Brain Lesions Induced by 6-OHDA Model of Parkinson’s Disease in Albino Wistar Rats.

Agrawal SS, Gullaiya S, Dubey V, Singh V, Kumar A, Nagar A, Tiwari P.

Cardiovasc Psychiatry Neurol. 2012;2012:942981. doi: 10.1155/2012/942981. Epub 2012 Aug

Free PMC Article

Curcumin protects nigral dopaminergic neurons by iron-chelation in the 6-hydroxydopamine rat model of Parkinson’s disease.

Du XX, Xu HM, Jiang H, Song N, Wang J, Xie JX.

Neurosci Bull. 2012 Jun;28(3):253-8. doi: 10.1007/s12264-012-1238-2.


Neuroprotective effect of curcuminoids against inflammation-mediated dopaminergic neurodegeneration in the MPTP model of Parkinson’s disease.

Ojha RP, Rastogi M, Devi BP, Agrawal A, Dubey GP.

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2012 Sep;7(3):609-18. doi: 10.1007/s11481-012-9363-2. Epub 2012 Apr 21.


Curcumin has neuroprotection effect on homocysteine rat model of Parkinson.

Mansouri Z, Sabetkasaei M, Moradi F, Masoudnia F, Ataie A.

J Mol Neurosci. 2012 Jun;47(2):234-42. doi: 10.1007/s12031-012-9727-3. Epub 2012 Mar 15.



Curcumin protects against A53T alpha-synuclein-induced toxicity in a PC12 inducible cell model for Parkinsonism.

Liu Z, Yu Y, Li X, Ross CA, Smith WW.

Pharmacol Res. 2011 May;63(5):439-44. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2011.01.004. Epub 2011 Jan 12.



Curcumin reduces alpha-synuclein induced cytotoxicity in Parkinson’s disease cell model.

Wang MS, Boddapati S, Emadi S, Sierks MR.

BMC Neurosci. 2010 Apr 30;11:57. doi: 10.1186/1471-2202-11-57.


Free PMC Article

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